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Ozbog's Neighborhood Grill 

Tastemakers

Out in the Far West End, where chain restaurants dominate the dining scene, locally owned Ozbog's Neighborhood Grill tries to survive by being just that: a neighborhood place with a more personal touch.

Local art decorates its golden-colored walls, and touches of wood give the space warmth. "It's more of a warm, intimate place," says co-owner Diane Farruggio. "It's just kind of cozy."

Ozbog's serves pastas, steaks, chicken — standard American fare. So how does it compete with restaurants that turn out similar menus on an assembly line? For one thing, Ozbog's is smoke-free, uncommon anywhere. Farruggio says most people appreciate that. At least she hasn't had one complaint about it, she says.

Ozbog's location is also a plus. It's near several neighborhoods, which allows people to walk or bike over, and they make repeated visits. Maybe they come back because they can afford to. With prices ranging between $6-$17, Ozbog's offers meals for all wallet sizes. Farruggio's brother-in-law, Chris Farruggio, owns the restaurant with her and comes up with many of its recipes, family recipes such as penne a la vodka and chicken parmigiana.

And the name? The restaurant gets its odd name from the original Ozbog, a Great Dane who lived in Farruggio's neighborhood when she was a child.

Event watch: The Vegetarian Society of Richmond holds its Compassionate Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday. The menu, catered by Ellwood Thompson's Natural Food Market, includes portabella mushroom caps stuffed with mashed sweet potatoes and gravy, celery root and Yukon-gold mashed potatoes and pumpkin-tofu pie with gingersnap crust. Dinner begins at 4 p.m. at Meadowbridge Seventh-day Adventist Church. $15-$18. For more information, call 344-4356.



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